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Speech Matters

Authors: Judith Field and Marissa Pinkas
Publisher: Aly’s Books, 2015, 88 pages
RRP: $25.95

With the oral presentation in the new VCE study design increasing to 40% of the weighting of Unit 4 English, and an oral component also being built into the Literature course, it’s more important than ever that students become self-assured and skillful speakers right from their lower levels of high school. Speech Matters is a teacher and student friendly resource that Field and Pinkas, both experienced secondary English teachers, intend as 'a practical guide for Year 7 – 10 students on how to speak anywhere, anytime with confidence', a concept that will appeal to teachers and students alike.

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Writing Skills: Skills Builders, Student Book 1 and Student Book 2

Authors: Lallaway, M. Johns, T and Bennett, M.
Publisher: Insight Publications, 48 pages.
RRP: $24.95

Writing Skills Student Book 1 and 2 are part of the ‘Insights Skills Builders’ series, focusing on developing the basic skills students need to improve their writing. They provide a focus on word, sentence and text level skill development - in various writing genres - in student friendly language. They are organised in stages so students can self-evaluate their progress through the variety of activities offered; therefore, becoming useful homework books allowing students to work independently. In addition, the books provide a checklist which encourages students to monitor their own learning.

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Literature For Senior Students

Editor: Robert Beardwood
Publisher: Insight Publications, 2015, 232 pages
RRP: $46.95

Essentially the 4th edition of Robert Beardwood’s Literature for Senior Students is the same textbook we all know and love, simply modified for the new study design. However, this edition can be distinguished from its predecessor by its colourful design, and the new sections on ‘Connections between texts’ and ‘Literary perspectives’.

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VCE English Language Exam Guide (3rd ed)

Author: Kirsten Fox
Publisher: Insight, 2015, 176 pages
Price: $34.95

Kirsten Fox is well-known in the VCE English Language field, having been involved in the course since its beginnings. This is the third edition of her extremely useful and unique exam guide.

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English: Year 10

Authors: Sandra Duncanson, Rebecca Swain and Elizabeth Tulloh
Publisher: Insight Publications, 2015
RRP: $32.95.

The layout and approach taken by this book would largely be familiar to teachers who have made use of Insight textbooks in the past. Overall, it offers a systematic approach to its selected content and a useful attention paid to conceptual explanations, and definitions, how to tackle learning and understanding about content and skills, and offering annotated samples of written work.

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English Year 11: For the new VCE Study Design 2016-2020

Author: Robert Beardwood
Publisher: Insight Publications, 218 pages
RRP: $46.95

As this book’s Introduction states, the text is closely based on Insight’s English in Year 11, familiar to many senior English teachers, but it offers new material 'specifically written for the revised VCE English Study Design, which is accredited for Year 11 students from 2016'.

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Argument and Persuasive Language: For the New VCE Study Design 2016-2020

Authors: Melanie Napthine with Robert Beardwood, Sandra Duncanson and Virginia Lee
Publisher: Insight Publications, 2015
RRP: $32.95

In Ross Fitzgerald and Ian McFadyen’s recently published satirical take on an easily identified well-known TV panel show, their character in the spotlight, Professor Dr. Grafton Everest, who has found himself to be a panel member on one of these panel shows, reflects on the contrast between being a patient in a hospital and a panel member on such a show. 'Of course, the procedures in hospitals were ultimately for the benefit of the patient. By contrast, the sole beneficiary of the interview was the media organisation. Current affairs programs were simply a form of entertainment in which the presenters, moderators and reporters were the stars and public figures raw materials.' '(The panel members) were just fodder they had no more control over the final product than a pine log fed into a wood chipper.'

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VCE Oxford Resources 2015

Title: Reading and Creating/Reading and Comparing
Authors: Kellie Heintz, Michael Horne, Timothy Nolan and Rachel Williams
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015, 164 pages

Title: Analysing and Presenting Argument
Author: Ryan Johnstone
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015, 172 pages

With the new English study design comes a range of new textbooks for teachers to explore for relevance in their teaching program and Oxford’s duo, Reading and Creating/Reading and Comparing and Analysing and Presenting Argument provide much to discover.

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Pearson English Skills Book VCE Units 1-4

Authors: Leanne Matheson and Mark Stracey
Publisher: Pearson, 2015, 289 pages
RRP: $51.95

Is it possible to give students too much information?

The trick in making a VCE textbook is that much of the material will be irrelevant given a school’s particular booklist. This is even more of a problem in this present moment as we eagerly await the VCAA text list for 2017. Pearson have addressed this problem by building the text book around skills required of students rather than around specific texts. This has the advantage of making it possible to sell the textbook to multiple schools along with the disadvantage of not perfectly suiting any particular school. But such is the nature of the task.

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Review - Shakespeare Reloaded

Karen B. Johnson, Camberwell High School

Author: Robin Garden

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2014, 280 pages.

RRP: $44.95

English Departments take note: Robin Garden’s Shakespeare Reloaded might just change the way you teach Shakespeare in future. Rather than the old single-text focus, this brilliant book introduces students to Shakespeare’s writing in a comprehensive, highly innovative and approachable manner, offering rich pathways to connect the ideas and themes of Shakespearean language to our modern learners. Garden’s intention is to ‘help demystify and broaden the study of Shakespeare in schools’, an element that will appeal to teachers and students alike.

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Review - Insight English Skills 9

James Fogarty

Author: Sue Sherman

Publisher: Insight Publications, 2011, 140 pages

RRP: $24.95

With twenty units and several other learning resources, Insight English Skills 9 provides many class activities for a relatively low price.

Each unit consists of three parts: interpretation of a text, understanding the language of it, and creating a text in response. Texts range from paintings (John Brack’s Collins St, 5p.m.) and symbols (Australian national flag) to news articles, poetry and cartoons.

The varied nature of this textbook makes it useful for supplementary activities throughout pre-planned class units or ready-to-go ‘last minute’ activities.

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Review - Indigeneous Perspectives through Word and Image

James Fogarty

Authors: Babs Helleman and Linda Gibson-Langford

Publisher: BF Helleman, 2013, 116 pages

RRP: $34.95

Helleman and Gibson-Langford cover four Indigenous Australians in this textbook: poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal, playwright Jack Davis, author Kim Scott, and artist Dadina Georgina Brown. The first chapter provides links to the New South Wales syllabus for the Australian Curriculum (2012). With a helpful table, teachers can clearly identity which Australian Curriculum categories (quality literature; environmental and social sustainability; etc) link to the aforementioned Indigenous Australians.

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Review - English for the Australian Curriculum

Karen B. Johnson, Camberwell High School

Editors: Brenton Doecke and Graham Parr

Authors: Rita Van Haren, Mel Dixon, Suzanne Kiraly, et al.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 251 pages.

RRP: $49.95

English for the Australian Curriculum: Book 2 is a colourful, activity-packed, student-focused text that prides itself on the rich creative engagement of inquiry learning for all students. Book 2 encourages deep, reflective thinking, in line with reflective teaching practices, and addresses the priorities of the Australian Curriculum with a broad range of activities in reading, writing, creating, viewing, listening and speaking, through its integrated approach to the study of language, literacy and literature.

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Review - Digital Games: Literacy in Action

Karen B. Johnson, Camberwell High School

Editors: Catherine Beavis, Joanne O’Mara and Lisa McNeice

Publisher: Wakefield Press, 2012, 152 pages.

RRP: $29.95

Digital Games presents a broad collection of articles, investigations, and teacher experiences pertaining to the use of digital gaming technologies in the classroom. The central premise of the book focuses on two theoretical perspectives, ‘games as text’ and ‘games as action’, and the ways in which these may interact together in order to enrich teaching and learning. The text acknowledges the digital landscape our students operate in, and posits ways to create meaningful and engaging connections to curriculum and pedagogy, so as to develop and improve student literacy through the use of gaming technologies.

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Review—Year 12 English Skills: student workbook

Sophia Mc Quillan

Authors: Elizabeth Tulloh and Melanie Napthine

Publisher: Insight, 2012

RRP: $32.95

Year 12 English Skills: Student Workbook is a great resource for teachers to use with their Year 12 VCE English and EAL students in addition to Robert Beardwood's English in Year 12. It provides great reference material and activities for the students to complete in class and for homework. Students will be placed in very good stead for their VCE English and EAL exams by using this textbook as reference material in conjunction with Beardwood's textbook.

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Review—Writing Better Essays—An Intergrated Approach Years 7 to 9

Nicole James

ISBN: 9780980839777

Author: Jennifer Minter

Publisher: English Works

RRP: $21.95

Jennifer Minter's resource text, Writing Better Essays—An Integrated Approach: Years 7 to 9 is an insightful and resourceful book for both students and teachers alike. The text is filled with a range of handy writing exercises as well as in depth descriptions that will be beneficial to students not only from Years 7 to 9, but also as a refresher for senior students heading towards VCE.

The text is written with a focus on the Australian Curriculum: English, referencing the knowledge and skills that students are to address at each of the initial to middle secondary English levels. This is advantageous as stating these skills early in the piece will help teachers to consider this when planning lessons and using the activities provided. From here, each section is broken down based on writing styles and text types. There is a large emphasis on persuasive writing, with the first chapter hinting at the skills required for VCE Using language to persuade.

The most appealing factor of this text is its accessibility and ability to be easily understood. Minter has managed to create detailed explanations of each writing area, while still using simple language that is easily interpreted. This is what makes this resource excellent as a student workbook and a teacher reference guide. There are clear headings throughout, and images and changes in font help to make this text appealing to the reader without being repetitive.

Another point worth mentioning is the writing aids placed throughout each section in order to reinforce writing basics. In the first chapter, the 'Paragraph Openers' on p.31 are an excellent resource for even the most apprehensive of writers. Additionally, the definitions given in 'Imagery and figures of speech' (p.41) are worded in such a way that students could easily identify with each word. If in doubt, Minter has also provided simple examples for each.

Writing Better Essays—An Integrated Approach: Years 7 to 9 is a straightforward yet thorough resource text to use when addressing the use of written language across all secondary year levels. Jennifer Minter has developed a practical guide to attacking writing strategies for students as well as teachers. As a teacher myself, I would highly recommend this text when scaffolding student learning across the early secondary years to VCE.

Review—Indigenous Perspectives through Word and Image

James Fogarty

ISBN: 9780977534364

Authors: Babs Helleman, Linda Gibson-Langford

Publisher: BF Helleman, 2013, 116 pages

RRP: $34.95

Helleman and Gibson-Langford cover four Indigenous Australians in this textbook: poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal, playwright Jack Davis, author Kim Scott and artist Dadina Georgina Brown. The first chapter provides links to the New South Wales syllabus for the Australian Curriculum (2012). With a helpful table, teachers can clearly identity which Australian Curriculum categories (quality literature; environmental and social sustainability; etc) link to the aforementioned Indigenous Australians.

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Review—Insight English Handbook

Georgia Murphy, The University of Melbourne

ISBN: 9781921411878

Authors: Beardwood, R., Napthine, M., & Pohl, M.

Publisher: Insight Publications, 2011, 223 pages

RRP: $46.95

Insight Publications' Insight English Handbook (2011) is a comprehensive and easy to understand reference for the contemporary English teacher. The Handbook's rich and thorough explanations provide educators with further depth and insight into the core components of the English curriculum.

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Review—English in Year 12 (second edition)

Sophia Mc Quillan

ISBN: 9781921411779

Author: Robert Beardwood, et al.

Publisher: Insight, 2012, 232 pages

RRP: $46.95

Robert Beardwood's new updated textbook of English in Year 12 is the perfect companion for any VCE English or EAL student starting Year 12 to have. All the chapters are sophisticatedly set out with detailed chapter outlines, definitions, text analysis, good examples and activities to both reinforce and extend students' understanding.

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Review—Insight English Skills 9

James Fogarty

ISBN: 9781921411960

Author: Sue Sherman

Publisher: Insight Publications, 2011, 140 pages

RRP: $24.95

With twenty units and several other learning resources, Insight English Skills 9 provides many class activities for a relatively low price. Each unit consists of three parts: interpretation of a text, understanding the language of it and creating a text in response. Texts range from paintings (John Brack's Collins St, 5p.m.) and symbols (Australian national flag) to news articles, poetry and cartoons. The varied nature of this textbook makes it useful for supplementary activities throughout pre-planned class units or ready-to-go 'last minute' activities.

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Making Poetry Matter and Heart Beats: Everyday and the Memorized Poem

Mary Weaven, Victoria University

Two beautiful hardbacks have recently joined my bookshelves. Making Poetry Matter : International Research on Poetry Pedagogy was published last year and, because I'd read other works by one of the editors, Sue Dymoke, I knew it would be good, bought it immediately, and have not been disappointed. The other, Catherine Robson's Heat Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem is a book I learned about when attending the UK Literacy Association conference in July this year. A session there on 'Why Learn a Poem?' enticed me with the lure of what it described as: 'clear signs of a revival of interest in the practice of poetry memorisation and recitation'; Robson's book was promoted throughout this session as a source of inspiration.

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The Making of Literature re-visited. A 'revolutionary text' in it's time. A text for these times.

Terry Hayes

The decision to reprint the article by Mary Mason and one her students, Danielle Wyatt, from a 1994 Idiom on literature teaching is a salutary reminder of two things. One is how revolutionary a text Ian Reid's The Making of Literature was when it was published thirty years ago. Two, that the gains of any worthwhile revolution in education need renewing and protecting in the professional life and mindset of each successive generation of teachers.

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Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and beyond

Prue Gill

One of the perks of being involved in the VCAA Literature Text selection panel is that for six months or so each year, books keep arriving in paper parcels on the front verandah, delivered gratis by publishers or distributors grateful that books on their listings are under consideration. Every now and then, there is a treasure in the parcel. That's how I felt, and many others on the panel too, when Language for a New Century: contemporary poetry from the Middle East, Asia and beyond, was unwrapped.

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Review—Successful English 1 and 2 (Second edition)

Hugh Gundlach

Successful English 1 and 2 (Second edition)

ISBN: 9780195568721/9780195568738
Authors:
Ford, A., Haywood, E., McIntosh, H., Conlon, J. & Henley, M.
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2010.  146pp
RRP: $28.95 (AUD)

The fully revised second editions of Successful English 1 and 2 provide a comprehensive assortment of grammar, spelling, comprehension and writing exercises. While targeted at Years 7 and 8 respectively, the resources would also be suited for students of greater or lesser ability at other year levels. The style of exercises are similar to those found in NAPLAN.

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Review—Successful English 1 and 2 (Second edition) (2)

Hugh Gundlach

ISBN: 9780195568721/9780195568738

Authors: Ford, A., Haywood, E., McIntosh, H., Conlon, J. & Henley, M.

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2010, 146pp

RRP: $28.95 (AUD)

The fully revised second editions of Successful English 1 and 2 provide a comprehensive assortment of grammar, spelling, comprehension and writing exercises. While targeted at Years 7 and 8 respectively, the resources would also be suited for students of greater or lesser ability at other year levels. The style of exercises are similar to those found in NAPLAN.

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